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What You Should Know About Dieting With Diabetes

When it comes to diets, there are many different types, styles, and variations that depend on the area you live in and your personal choices. There are many different types of diest out in the world which can be confusing and overwhelming sometimes. They all offer different benefits and drawbacks to your health. Every person has different types of foods that they like that depend on a variety of factors. With every diet out there, they follow basic guidelines to that diet. These guidelines don’t necessarily need to be followed exactly but rather by your personal choice based on your likes and dislikes. 

For those with diabetes, choosing to follow a specific diet can be different. Dieting can affect your diabetes either in a positive or negative way. It is always best to consult with your doctor or registered dietitian before making the changes. Following a diet can affect your blood sugar levels by either lowering or raising them. When it comes to each individual person, it is best to follow your instincts with foods that can raise or lower your blood sugar levels. For instance, some people can not eat certain fruits because it raises their blood sugar level too high. It can be dangerous for your health if you are not able to maintain a balance with your blood sugar levels. Below is a blood sugar level chart to help understand and know where your levels should be throughout the day. 

Blood Glucose (Sugar) Levels Chart

Time of CheckGoal plasma blood glucose ranges for people without diabetesGoal plasma blood glucose ranges for people with diabetes
Before breakfast (fasting)Less than  10070 – 130
Before lunch, supper and snackLess than  11070 – 130
Two hours after mealsLess than 140Less than 180
BedtimeLess than  12090- 150
A1C (also called glycosylated hemoglobin A1c, HbA1c or glycohemoglobin A1c)Less than  6%Less than 7%

Table Source: https://www.joslin.org/info/Goals-for-Blood-Glucose-Control.html

Blood sugar levels can be affected by your diet in a major way. Starting off your day with a balanced meal and maintaining it throughout the day is crucial for your health. Having a balanced meal can help to regulate your blood sugar. It keeps you from raising and lowering your blood glucose levels throughout the day. A balanced meal consists of vegetables, fruits, protein, and whole grains and healthy fats. Don’t forget, having about 64 ounces or more of water every day also aids in lowering blood glucose levels. The below picture shows what your plate should look like for a balanced, healthy meal.

Image Source: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/healthy-eating-plate/

When you think of dieting it should still include a healthy, balanced meal no matter which type of diet that you follow. Dieting is not just about losing, gaining or maintaining your weight, it is about maintaining overall health and wellness for a lifetime. It can sometimes be easy to lose weight with dieting but it is also so easy to gain it right back once you go back to your old way of eating. When you make diet changes it is not just short-term but long term dedication to being healthy. It’s okay to enjoy life from time to time with a treat but it is finding the balance and self-control to know your limits.

Below are various diet types that are followed by many people around the world or even people you know personally. These diets are helpful to those that have prediabetes and diabetes, to manage their blood sugar levels through food. These diets might not work for you since every person is different but they can give you ideas to think about when it comes to your nutrition.

Medierriterian Diet 

This diet mainly consists of:

  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Nuts/seeds
  • Legumes
  • Whole grains
  • Seafood
  • Extra virgin Olive oil
  • Red wine

This diet can vary due to the many countries around the Mediterranean sea which can make it difficult to say specifically where it originated. The foods listed above are the main foods that are included in the Medierriterian diet when you speak about it. It excludes any foods that are processed, high in sugar and limits red and processed meats. It does, however, have poultry, eggs and dairy products that can be consumed in moderation.


This includes having a diet consisting of:

  • Whole grains
  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Dairy products
  • Lean meats, chicken and fish
  • Nuts/Seeds
  • Legumes
  • Fats and oils

This diet does not exclude any type of foods but rather helps to focus on eating a well-balanced diet based on the food groups. It recommends eating 6-8 servings of whole grains, 4-6 servings of vegetables, 2-5 servings of fruits, 2-3 servings of dairy products and 6 or fewer servings of meat sources every day and nuts, seeds, and legumes 4-5 times a week. This diet limits processed, high-fat and high-sugar foods.

Vegetarian or Vegan Diet 

A vegetarian typically includes not eating products that contain meat, poultry, and fish but there are different types of vegetarians depending on what they choose to consume. This is usually based on personal choice since there are many reasons for someone wanting to be vegetarian. Here are the different types of vegetarians:

  • Lacto-Vegetarians do not eat meat, poultry, fish, seafood, eggs but do eat dairy products. 
  • Ovo-Vegetarian do not eat meat, poultry, fish, seafood, and dairy product but do eat eggs
  • Lacto-Ovo vegetarian do not meat, poultry, seafood, fish but do eat eggs and dairy products
  • Pescatarian do not eat meat, poultry, eggs and dairy product but do eat fish and seafood
  • Plant-Based/Vegan does not eat meat, poultry, fish, seafood, eggs, dairy products, and any foods that contain any of the above ingredients

Being a vegetarian or vegan does not mean that your diet will be any less nutritious but rather you will have to find other ways to gain necessary nutrients. There are plenty of substitutes that have become available to help give those with this type of diet the nutrients they need. With that being said, following this diet does have its downsides if you are not having balanced meals. It is important to pay attention to finding other sources that contain calcium, vitamin D, vitamins B-12, protein, omega-3 fatty acid, iron, and zinc. Many natural foods do contain these but making sure you get enough of each is key. 

These diets do not necessarily prevent diabetes nor do they change your diagnosis but they can help with the management. It can help to control blood sugar levels and aid in weight management. If you are considering any type of diet change, consult with your doctor or a registered dietitian. Remember, when you are making changes to your diet it is best to do it as a lifestyle change instead of just a temporary change, so you can experience the benefits it offers for a lifetime.

Title Image Source:https://www.jefit.com/nutrition-tips/easy-dieting-tips-to-become-healthy


Duyff, R.L. (2017). Complete Food & Nutrition Guide: The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.